Lalu Prasad Yadav has been RJD’s poll mascot since its formation and his presence in Bihar. Even though his son Tejashwi had been leading RJD admirably in his absence, the party undoubtedly needed his physical presence, which enhances his charisma manifold.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the biggest political party in Bihar in terms of seats in the state assembly, has received a major boost following the return of its president and charismatic leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav to Bihar after a long gap.
Lalu, who sprung from the JP movement of the 70s, had been away from Bihar for a long time due to ill health and incarceration in connection with the fodder scam. Now his return will not only boost the spirits of his party workers but also cause problems for chief minister, Nitish Kumar whose JD(U) is running a coalition government in the state with BJP.
That Yadav has lost none of his mass appeal was evident from the rousing reception he was accorded after his arrival at the Patna airport on October 24. Though he looked frail he has lost none of his magic. His trademark wit is also intact.
Yadav, who was released from jail a few months ago, arrived in Patna accompanied by wife Rabri Devi and eldest daughter Misa Bharti. He was last seen in Patna in September 2018 after which he returned to Ranchi to serve his sentences upon expiry of the period of his bail granted to attend elder son Tej Pratap’s wedding.
At the airport, the warring brothers Tej Pratap and Tejashwi appeared to have made peace while receiving their father. The former Bihar Chief Minister drove straight to his wife’s 10, Circular Road bungalow, situated right across the Chief Minister’s residence, where a huge crowd of supporters had gathered to greet him. Police personnel had a tough time keeping the crowd under control.
At the bungalow Tej Pratap was back to his antics. He was seen leaving the place in a huff, complaining about humiliation at the hands of state RJD chief Jagadanand Singh whom he accused of preventing him from spending some time with his father. The mercurial elder son of Yadav, who has lost the spotlight to the younger sibling Tejashwi, had been fuming since morning when posters were put up at some places welcoming his father. His photographs were conspicuous by their absence in the posters.
However, Yadav’s return to active politics in Bihar should not be seen only in the limited context of his campaign for the October 30 by-polls to Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan assembly seats in the heartland state. He has been RJD’s poll mascot since its formation and his presence in the state is bound to galvanize the party. Even though his son Tejashwi had been leading RJD admirably in his absence the party undoubtedly needed his physical presence which enhances his charisma manifold.
Yadav’s RJD is the biggest political party in Bihar at the moment with largest number of MLAs in the 243-strong state assembly. It poses a real challenge to the BJP-JD(U) alliance government led by Nitish Kumar. However, the party got caught in a controversy with its old ally, the Congress accusing it of betraying the coalition dharma and fielding its own candidates for both the seats. The Congress in charge for Bihar, former union minister Bhakta Charan Das went to the extent of saying that “mahagathbandhan” had ceased to exist after RJD’s unilateral decision to field candidates for both the seats going to the by-polls.
Lalu will need to manage all this and steer his party to a position where it can bounce back to power in Bihar, the state which he has ruled twice in the past as chief minister.